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ALA/ARL/ACRL testifies in support of DMCA 1201 exemption for faculty in all disciplines

In December 2008 the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) and the Music Library Association (MLA) submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress, asking for an expansion of the previous exemption to the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to include the following:

  • The exemption should apply to audiovisual works included in any college or university library, not just the library of the media studies department
  • The exemption should apply to classroom uses by instructors in all subjects, not just media studies or film professors

LCA and MLA followed up in February 2009, submitting additional evidence supporting the circumvention of access control technologies of audiovisual works included in a library of a college or university. The associations highlighted the absence of alternatives available and included additional examples of film clips used by college and university faculty — from many academic disciplines.

On Friday, May 1 in Palo Alto, CA, the Copyright Office began a series of hearings on the proposed anti-circumention exemptions. Yesterday, the hearings moved to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where they’ll conclude on Friday, May 8. Jonathan Band, testifying on behalf of the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) offered evidence in support of the expansion of the exemption (for a transcript of the testimony, go here). Band said that DVDs provide the high-quality audio and video necessary to discern subtle forms of communication central to teaching language and criminal justice classes. Band went on to question the alternatives to circumvention offered by content industry representatives, such as videorecording a TV screen or asking permission from film studios in order to use a clip. Finally, Band excoriated rightsholders for opposing the modest expansion of the exemption to include all faculty on campus. He said,

They know that whether the exemption is granted or rejected will have absolutely no impact on the level of infringement…they insult us by treating us as potential infringers who can’t be trusted to use a technology any 12-year-old can download from the Internet.

Many others testified yesterday in support of this exemption, or similar exemptions. Check out the Twitter feeds from OITP, Public Knowledge, and Wendy Seltzer for more updates. Follow #dmca1201 on Twitter for proceedings over the next 2 days. And don’t miss this surreal video of members of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) showing the Copyright Office how users should not be allowed to circumvent copy protections on DVDs because there is a viable alternative – videorecording a TV set!

MPAA shows how to videorecord a TV set on Vimeo.

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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